Manitoba

Advance polls open amid concerns about voting cards

Advance polls are open today until Monday but no matter when they have the opportunity to vote some people report problems with their voter cards.
New voter registration rules are causing confusion among Aboriginal people in Cape Breton.

Advance polling stations open Friday, but some people are frustrated with what their voter information cards are telling them to do. Others report not getting the cards at all.

"I got mine and my daughter got hers but my wife has been left out," said Winnipeg resident Raymond Firer.

Firer says the two cards arrived in the mail. He can't figure it out because his family has lived in the same home for a decade and voted in the last two elections.

"Makes you wonder what on earth is going on?" Firer told CBC News. He says they tried to sort the problem out online at Elections Canada's website but got nowhere. 

Firer says their next step will be to go to the local Elections Canada office in the riding, but he won't bother trying to phone.

"I haven't got time to sit on the phone waiting for them to answer," he said. 

Beausejour resident Jeffrey Cottes received his voter card in the mail, but it directs him to a polling station 55 kilometres away in Pinawa, Man. 

Normally Cottes votes at the community hall in Beausejour, so he phoned Elections Canada. He says he got through fairly quickly.

"They told me I wasn't the only one that had the problem, but they said they would fix my file and send me a new card," he said. 

Cottes, who teaches politics at the University of Winnipeg, says he tried to navigate the Elections Canada website before phoning the 1-800 number.

"I just couldn't find the answer. I just kept going in circles. It would ask me to put in my postal code and then it would just go around and around again, so I just phoned Elections Canada directly."

Cottes thought said while he was surprised Elections Canada officials told him other voters had called in about problems with their cards, he also admitted the agency did send him a new voter information card in just a few days.

Elections Canada spokesperson Marie France Kenny admits errors can happen but says they've sent out 26.5 million voter information cards and there are no widespread reports of errors in Manitoba. She says Elections Canada relies on information on the cards from provincial data such as driver's licenses.

Kenny says it can be faster to phone or visit local Elections Canada offices to sort out a problem rather than trying the national number. 

What worries Cottes though is not how fast Elections Canada can fix a problem, but that errors could discourage people from voting at all.

"It's possible that someone would say, 'That is just too far, I'm just too busy,' or just not care enough and not make the call to Elections Canada at all," Cottes said. 

Advance polls will be open until Monday Oct. 12. Poll locations are on voter information cards or can be found by going to www.elections.ca. 

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